Monday, September 11, 2006

The movie, Monster House is one of my most anticipated movies ever since I first saw the trailer online last year with some friends. Of course the idea of having a creepy occupant for living across the house of the snooping kid is nothing new, having a creepy living house sit across the house of the snooping kid is slightly novel but having it presented in CGI with the characters looking as if they came out of a children's book, well that's really something.

The story begins as it always has with a grumpy old man called Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi) living alone in an old, old house across his suspicious neighbor, D.J. (Mitchel Musso). It's two days before Halloween and DJ's parents are going out of town leaving him in the care of his regular babysitter, Zee (Maggie Gyllenhaal). His best friend, Chowder (Sam Lerner) right before the parents drive off to show him his new basketball. Unfortunately for him the ball bounced off DJ's garage and into the cranky old man' yard. DJ warned Chowder about the old man and his penchant for confiscating every kid's toy that trespasses there so Chowder turns the table back on his friend and dares him to get the ball before Nebbercracker knows they're even there. But before DJ could reach his goal out comes Nebber cracker shouting at them for sneaking in on his property. He manages to reach DJ and shakes him like a ragdoll but before he could do anything else he keels over from what appears to be heart attack. Feeling guilty that he caused the death of another person he went home and went to bed only to be woken up by the ring of the telephone whose call originated from inside the creepy house. Zee, along with her boyfriend, Bones (Jason Lee) laugh off this incident charging it to his overactive imagination (Bones was later eaten). Chowder thought the same way too and to prove his point he walked over to the door playing "ding-dong ditch." He got the scare of his life when the house came to life and tried to eat him. A few hours later it tried to eat another kid in the person of Jenny (Spencer Locke), who was going from door to door trying to sell some girl scout cookies. They try to tell the police everything that's been happening but they were shooed away for trespassing (the police along with their squad car were also later eaten). With Halloween coming up the next day time's running out and they don't have any choice but to take matters into their own hands if they are to save Trick or Treaters from being eaten alive.

Now believe it or not, it's not enough that this movie has better better visuals than most studios have come up with (with the exception of Pixar) that there were more than a couple of times I forgot I was watching an animated film, and story. Part of the appeal of this film are the lessons learned from what the characters go through. A lot comes to mind like don't give in to pride if you know it involves a great deal of bodily harm. Saving face at the cost of one's life is not worth it at all (DJ's attempt in getting the ball from Nebbercracker's yard after Chowder insinuates his cowardice). People have reasons for how they act in public. There may be deeper issues at stake but they're not exempt from taking responsibilities for their actions (Nebbercracker had to help get rid of the problem at the same time give back everything he took). There are I can't think of right now but the one thing that stands up from the rest is the fact that we all tend to forget warnings and reason if we can only get something we prize above all. It's almost the same as trying to do some stupid stunts prove our bravery in front of our friends. If it's something you can live without then let it go. Living towards the future is not going to be as effective if we can't let go of the past. Speaking of which, if you've already watched this movie there is this good example of a character holding on to his possession that will remind you of another character that also suffers from the same predicament:

"My precioussss..."

Although they both finished the movie with a smile on their faces after being freed from their curse, one lived long enough to savor it. Now Hollywood may have left us a tad skeptical of what they're capable of these days but I encourage you not to scratch this off your list because of your initial impressions. Spielberg managed to come up with one more magic up his sleeves along with Zemeckis (whose last team up brought us the very memorable Back to the Future trilogy) this is one heck of a ride you really shouldn't miss out on the big screen.

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this cool movie.

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